Shengavit Of Kura Araxes Culture: One Of Armenia’s Historical Sites Inhabited Since At Least 3200 BC

A. Sutherland - - One of the most prominent historical sites of Kura Araxes (Uraxes) culture dated from 3400 BC to 2000 BC is the Shengavit settlement, located just beyond the suburbs of the city of Yerevan, Armenia.

Shengavit ruins Armenia

The Kura-Araxes culture (3400-2000 BCE). Although the Kura-Araxes people were less militaristic and more sedentary, they also underwent a major expansion, first west to Anatolia, south to the Fertile Crescent, and east toward the Iranian plateau, possibly all the way to Pakistan, where they would have influenced the Indus Valley Civilisation.

The area of modern-day Shengavit has been inhabited since at least 3200 BC, probably, late Neolithic 3500-3000 BC). The site was excavated and relatively well studied by archaeologists who revealed findings, attributed to many cultures that existed during the very long period of time from 4,000 to 2,000 BC.

People had developed agriculture, ranching, cattle breeding industry, reprocessed agricultural produce, and possessed equipment for corn milling. The city had unique food storage and depository of wheat, housing 4 tons of crops.

shengavit location

The excavations carried out at the ancient Shengavit revealed a large set of tools and bronze artifacts.

The excavations carried out at the site of Shengavit revealed a large set of tools, bronze artifacts which confirm that Shengavit was a town with prospering agriculture and well-developed craft, including spinning looms, bone spindle whorls, looms, seals, marble, and onyx scepters.

People also worked as craftsmen creating pottery and skilled metalworkers. It is believed that copper smelting may have taken place in ancient Shengavit.

Shengavit ancient burial place

The settlement had a highly developed architecture that included defensive, economic, administrative, residential, and spiritual buildings.

One example can be a rectangular semi-subterranean temple-like building, probably a temple with a low altar with a hole that may have held a wooden figurine and terracotta hearths, and a place for keeping the sacred fire during rituals.

The ruins of the city area, located on an irregular-oval platform, built on a slope, are approximately 6 ha and are still surrounded by a wall with cyclopean towers, constructed of vast and uncut stones from basalt without mortar. Under the northern part of the wall is an underground passage leading directly to the river Hrazdan and on the south side, there are traces of a filled moat.

At the time when Shengavit was a flourishing center, it had the best defensive system.

Shengavit - symbols of power

People lived in round (sometimes rectangular) dwellings about 6 to meters in diameter and built at a distance of 7.3 meters from each other. Still, they were connected with the last wall of the adjacent buildings.

Shengavit ruins of a temple

Their walls had a stone base, on which raw brickwork increased. A round, decorated clay fireplace - usually located in the house's center–had an essential economic and ritual role. Its appearance symbolized status and the success of the family.

The walls of both round dwellings and rectangular buildings from inside and outside were plastered with clay. The round homes - covered with rubbles - had a corridor entrance opened from the east side.

Shengavit ruins of a temple

Shengavit ancient burial places were found outside the walls of the city. Each unearthed tomb had a place for 10-12 people,  burial property, tools, goods, black clay pots, flint and obsidian, copper armlets, earrings, and beads.

According to one theory, Shengavit’s burial area was once inside the walled city. Later, for some unknown reasons, the city was confined to a smaller place within the walls, and the abandoned area became a burial place dated to 3,000 BC.

Written by – A. Sutherland Staff Writer

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The Cambridge Ancient History

The Armenian Weekly